June 20, 2023 8 min read

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    Menopause. Everyone with a uterus and ovaries goes through it, but even then so much about the process remains unknown. In fact, according to Rochelle Weitzner, founder and CEO of Pause Well-Aging, “fewer than 20% of physicians are trained in any sort of menopausal care. Very little research has gone into understanding menopause or providing science-backed solutions.”

    While that’s certainly not the most optimistic of panoramas, it doesn’t mean there aren’t any resources or tools out there to fill in the gaps. If you or someone you care about is navigating the murky waters of menopause, you’ve come to the right place. We’re going to focus on how menopause affects the skin and share valuable information on how to alleviate the pesky side effects and downsides that pop up along the way.

    Menopause 101

    What Is Menopause?

    Menopause 101

    Menopause refers to the natural biological process that marks the end of a menstruating person’s reproductive years. It is defined as the cessation of menstrual periods for at least 12 consecutive months. Menopause typically occurs between the ages of 45 and 55, with the average age being around 51.

    During menopause, a woman or person assigned female at birth (AFAB)’s ovaries gradually produce less estrogen and progesterone, the hormones responsible for regulating the menstrual cycle and supporting fertility. As hormone levels decline, menstrual periods become irregular and eventually stop altogether.

    The transition into menopause is called perimenopause, which can last for several years before the final menstrual period. Perimenopause is characterized by fluctuations in hormone levels, resulting in various symptoms that can vary between people. 

    Common symptoms include irregular periods, hot flashes, night sweats, mood changes, vaginal dryness, sleep disturbances, weight gain, and decreased libido. After reaching menopause, the postmenopausal stage begins, which lasts for the rest of a person’s life. During this stage, hormone levels stabilize at lower levels, and symptoms may gradually diminish or disappear. 

    Menopause is a natural biological process, but the physical symptoms (such as hot flashes), and emotional symptoms can have a negative effect on mental health. There are many effective treatments available, from lifestyle adjustments to hormone therapy.

    How Does Menopause Affect Skin Health?

    Menopause can have various skin-related effects due to the hormonal changes that occur during this phase of life. Estrogen levels, which decline during menopause, play a significant role in maintaining skin elasticity, moisture, and overall health.

    Aging itself is hard enough, but tacking on the aesthetic changes and physiological effects of menopause on the skin can feel like a cruel joke. Here are some ways menopause can affect the skin:

    • Dryness: Declining estrogen levels can lead to a decrease in both oil production and moisture retention. As a result, menopausal women may experience dryness, itching, and an overall dull appearance of the skin. The decrease in oil production can also make skin more susceptible to environmental damage.

    Skin dryness

    • Wrinkles and fine lines: Estrogen promotes collagen production, which contributes to skin firmness and elasticity. A 2013 study indicated that some types of collagen might decrease as much as 30 percent in the first five years postmenopause. As a result, during this phase skin may lose some of its elasticity and become more prone to the development of wrinkles, fine lines, and sagging.

    • Changes in texture: Estrogen decline can affect the skin’s thickness and structure. It may become thinner, more fragile, and more susceptible to injuries or bruising. It also might feel rougher or develop a crepey appearance, characterized by thin, crinkly skin.

    • Increased sensitivity: Some may experience increased skin sensitivity, redness, or irritation during menopause. This may be due to changes in the skin barrier function and a decrease in natural skin oils.

    • Acne and breakouts: While many experience a decrease in acne after adolescence, some people may develop acne or experience breakouts during perimenopause or menopause. Hormonal fluctuations and imbalances tend to be the primary triggering factors of this. Adult acne has several triggers, from hormones to diet to genetics, and there are loads of options that include topical solutions and nutritional supplements to help treat it.

    It’s important to remember that menopause impacts every person differently, and it can often present in a variety of ways. Current awareness and research are skewed toward Caucasian populations; people of color have reported different experiences of how menopause affects them. When it comes to skin health, people with lighter tones tend to experience excess dryness and reduced elasticity, while those with darker, more melanated skin are more prone to issues with hyper pigmentation and melasma. 

    Best Bets to Care for Your Skin in Menopause

    The changes listed above certainly are a lot to manage and deal with, but there are several ways to boost skin health and appearance throughout menopause and beyond. 

    A skincare routine geared toward this phase of life should focus on retaining hydration, boosting collagen, and fighting dullness. This can be achieved through a comprehensive mix of topical products, diet, and nutritional supplements that support a healthy, radiant appearance. 

    Topical Products for Menopausal Skin

    Thanks to beauty bloggers and TikTok crazes, it can be easy to grow overwhelmed by the options available when it comes to skincare products and recommendations. Don’t stress: there are a few core pillars that should always have a spot on your bathroom counter that will ensure your skin is well cared for and looking its best. Remaining consistent will do wonders in the long run. 

    At first glance, these tips might look like generic anti-aging suggestions. However, products developed with menopausal skin in mind focus on specific issues. For example, skin that’s dealing with a lack of sebum production and decreased skin cell turnover requires products that can both rebalance natural oils and exfoliate skin. 

    First things first: SPF! Even when it’s cloudy, even during the winter months, even if you aren’t going outside very often. Incorporating sunscreen into your daily routine will do wonders for your skin, from preventing future wrinkles from popping up to protecting you from skin cancer. 

    Use SPF

    Serums packed with Vitamin D help combat hyperpigmentation and help even out skin tone. Other ingredients, such as retinol, ceramides, linoleic acid (vitamin F), and peptides are also common in serums; all benefit skin health, whether it’s by minimizing fine lines, evening out texture, or protecting the skin barrier. 

    Find a high-quality moisturizer that doesn’t irritate your skin and that leaves you feeling soft and supple. A solid moisturizer will lock in the properties of serums applied previously and provides an added boost of hydration. Hyaluronic acid is a popular ingredient; though the jury’s out on just how effective it can be when used in topical applications, it supports hydration and and favors elasticity. 

    Remember to always read the labels and do your best to ensure that the products you’re using are as high-quality as you can manage. More expensive doesn’t always mean more effective; there are plenty of products available at the local drugstore that are excellent alternatives. 

    Diet for Menopausal Skin

    You are what you eat, and during menopause you’ll want to guarantee that you’re consuming plenty of healthy fats, protein, and other nutrient-dense foods. Not only will this favor a glowing complexion, it will also help you manage other symptoms like hot flashes, low energy, and mood swings that are often common during this stage.

    High-calcium foods, such as dairy products and dark leafy greens, are key as declining estrogen levels impact calcium levels as well. Dairy products also contain phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and vitamins D and K, all of which are essential for bone health.

    Diet for menopausal skin

    Foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids can help mitigate hot flashes and night sweats. Omega-3s also support heart and brain health and can reduce symptoms typically associated with inflammation. Try incorporating fish like mackerel, salmon and anchovies into your diet. Additionally, flax, chia, and hemp seeds are great sources of omega-3s. 

    Lean protein and abundant fruits and vegetables support healthy weight while boosting development of muscle mass and bone strength. Grilled chicken, eggs, turkey, tofu, lentils, and tuna are all excellent sources of protein; avoid consuming too much red meat if possible. 

    Nutritional Supplements for Menopausal Skin

    Supplements serve as the ideal complement to a well-rounded diet that prioritizes whole, nutrient-dense foods. During menopause, there are different options that can support bone, heart, and brain health, as well as give your skin an added boost. It’s also a good idea to remember that dietary supplements of the same nutrient, such as Vitamin D, are often much better absorbed when compared to topical solutions. Higher bioavailability means greater impact and better results. 

    Calcium supplements are fabulous for keeping your bones strong and healthy. We also recommend a Vitamin D3+K2 supplement for added bone, heart, and immune health.  

    Collagen peptides can help reduce the appearance of fine lines, as they plump skin and support a more supple texture. Studies show that collagen peptides also favor skin elasticity and hydration. Another important benefit is the bone support that collagen provides, helping minimize the chance of fractures and perhaps even osteoporosis. 

    One last fun fact for you: Studies have shown that Vitamin C boosts collagen synthesis, so if you’re taking collagen supplements, go the extra mile and add in a source of Vitamin C or a liposomal supplement for an even greater boost. 

    Lifestyle Habits for Menopausal Skin

    When was the last time you got a proper night’s sleep? Making sure you’re well-rested, hydrated, and staying active will go a long way when it comes to managing the symptoms and side effects of menopause. 

    If you haven’t already, try to find a physical activity - like yoga, swimming, or cycling - that you can incorporate into your daily routine. Not only will it keep your heart, bones, and joints healthy, but it will support a balanced and happy mood thanks to the endorphins coursing through your veins once you’re done. 

    Don’t cancel out all the benefits of your super-healthy diet by overdoing it on alcohol, refined sugar, or processed foods. Not only do they impact your physical health, but they also affect mental health and mood. 

    The Power of Online Community

    Sometimes, the hardest part of dealing with a new phase of life like menopause is the sense that you’re going through it alone. Community, be it virtual or otherwise, plays a powerful role and can be a constant source of support, information, and more. 

    Given the reality that Western healthcare professionals lack comprehensive training in menopausal care, looking for resources through online spaces can fill in the gaps and ease feelings of stress or isolation.

     Not sure where to start? Check out the National Menopause Foundation, which provides peer-to-peer support designed to help you thrive during menopause. We also love this roundup of perimenopausal influencers published by The Uncovery, which will surely get you inspired in more ways than one.

    Peanut Menopause is an app that was developed to serve as a safe space for people experiencing menopause. Spanish-speakers will find refuge in No Pausa, a comprehensive resource that’s overflowing with information, research, community support, and more. 

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    Celebrities are even joining the party. Actor Naomi Watts founded Stripes, which in addition to selling products designed for people going through menopause also has an online community space and resource page to provide essential information. 

    Conclusion 

    Despite how far we’ve come in so many aspects, there still remains a stigma around aging and menopause. Rather than automatically characterize it as a time with a marked decrease in quality of life, it’s important to focus on the positive and find joy along the way. While adjusting to it might take some getting used to, the wisdom and experience that come with spending more years on Earth are unbeatable. “Youth is wasted on the young,” after all! 

    Taking care of yourself in an informed and loving way brings about new vitality. Incorporating healthy habits and routines that center sustainable, long-term wellness always trumps trendy fads and buzzy quick fixes. Keep that in mind as you navigate the universe of information surrounding menopause. This stage is nothing to be ashamed about - quite the contrary, actually - and can be seen as an opportunity to achieve deeper self-connection and understanding. 



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